What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory? I have too many memories, both happy and sad to list here.
Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run? Fuel team, 8 years; Ambassador 4 years and current year
Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? 24-year Air Force Veteran, 2 ½ tours Vietnam in country What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? I was looking for a group to travel to the Wall with and my wife found RFTW on the net. What brought you back? Traveling with like-minded vets. and the comradery. Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? One time, never again. I found it to be more of a circus, not a solemn occasion. Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? No, not enough time.
Give us a few words about “WHY YOU RIDE.” After my FNG ride in May 2005, I learned of a fellow Vietnam Veteran of the 18th Special Operation Sq.(18th SOS) Sgt, John O’Neal Rucker, that had been killed on “The last day of the war”, and had a memorial to him at the county court house in Lindale, Texas. I took a ride up there on Veterans day, 2005 and found they were having a ceremony for him as I arrived there. I meet his mom, brothers and sisters there and became fast friends with them. I learned that although I didn’t know Sgt. Rucker that I had contact with him during his short career. During my time as an Instructor in Block 4, Aircraft Maintenance, O’Neal, (as he was called by family and friends), was in one of my classes for a week. In 1971 I was assigned to the 18th SOS as a flight crew member on AC119K gunships. One of my duties before each night’s mission was to preflight the outside of the aircraft along with the assigned crew chief. I had to have interacted with him dozens of times. Starting in 2006, I rode every mission on RFTW for Sgt. Rucker and have been privileged to carry items to the Wall for his family. For the rest of my life, I will remember Sgt. John O’Neal Rucker and his sacrifice for our country
Between my retirement In February and the beginning of the world’s longest organized motorcycle ride I worked part time as an accountant and full time as an organizer. As a Company Gunny and biker leader I had put together dozens of events involving hundreds of folks but this was different. There was no email, no cell phones and long-distance calls costs a small fortune. Mailing flyers and coordinating phone calls was my daily chore. My so-called partner showed up once to complain then left but another Vietnam Vet and his wife stepped up to help. Sam and Margo volunteered to sell merchandise and help with mailing. We had to raise some funds. Easy Rider Magazine gave us free advertising space for our first item, a black and yellow patch that read “Jane Fonda, America Traitor Bitch”. Some money began to flow into the treasury but not nearly enough. My savings was down to zero, think goodness my Marine retirement paid most of the mortgage. Volunteers began to return calls from across the US with the first from “Greasy” in Kentucky and another from Dick in Kansas, then ABATE organizations, VFWs and HOG chapters. The first money donated was a $100 from UMF of America or just plain Uglies. Wherever someone volunteered food or gas I connected lines across the US. A route and schedule were cemented. A Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant who ran the print shop at MCRD ran off 10,000 flyers one weekend. Smiling with a Semper Fi on his lips he filled the back of my pickup truck with boxes of paper one Sunday afternoon. The beginnings of biker events in Southern California are the Laughlin River Run and the Yuma Prison Run, both in April. I packed the Wide Glide with camping gear and flyers and attend both events wondering if anyone paid attention to my pleas to remember our POW/MIAs and could you join me in a cross-country motorcycle ride? Are you crazy? A ride across country? With Nam vets on medications riding chopper bikes and junker Harleys? You have got to be kidding me! Also, in April, I flew to DC to meet the leaders of Rolling Thunder Ray Manzo and I clicked immediately. Both of us are Marine Nam vets, we walked and talked the same language. We are still the best of friends today. Top Holland was our coordinator for permits and contacts with Washington police, Pentagon, Park Service and political hacks. Col Earl Hopper, whose son was Missing In Action and I shared a hotel room. He was suspicious of bikers but he was all in when we created such a noise the next month. While at breakfast, the news reported the killing of Col Nick Rowe in the Philippines. Col Rowe escaped as a POW from the North Vietnamese with them promising to get revenge. Another Communist group murdered him while he worked for the American Embassy. Top Holland told us stories of he and Nick working together “back in the day”. With less than a month remaining, the pace picked up. Riders arrived at my home to camp on my lawn the day before the Run began. A pickup truck and trailer were loaded with t-shirts and patches. Jon from Hawaii parked his bike and trailer in front of my house then complained about the rain during the evening. The “rain” was my sprinklers which came on covering his camp site. What a start of a long ride. Marion Shelton gave me a photo of Charles with his Harley and three of their children. She schooled me on POW issues and came to several events to raise awareness. And then for the start of Run For The Wall, she was there waving us on. Her words, “What can you do?” rang in my ears when we left San Diego that morning of Friday, May 19th .
FRIDAY, SAN DIEGO TO LAS VEGAS
Forming in front of The Landing Zone, home of the Vietnam Veterans of San Diego in downtown we had 200 bikes or so lined up and ready to ride. The police said to get in the far-left lane and follow them. I-15 wasn’t completed yet but with police escort we hauled butt to the Truck Stops of America in Ontario. Leading the pack on the left, my partner, Bill, on the right and several local riders behind me who I knew well, we clicked along at about 70 MPH. Bill lost his camping gear and blew his motor before we reached Ontario so Pete came up to fill the gap. To our huge surprise, Ontario was full of folks from various biker and veteran organizations. Someone had read the flyers, listened to my pleas, had me crying. Mike and Linda Little, Tony Diamond and so many others were there to see us on our quest. The first donated food and support were here in Ontario. Several news organizations had arrived. Later I learned we looked pretty good on local TV. Up the steep Cajon Summit on I-15 to the fuel stop in Barstow was unique. Riders bought their own gas and a news journalist from Marine Corps Base Barstow took our photos and took interviews. At the Nevada line we stopped at Big Nose Kate’s for cold air conditioning and wait for some riders from Las Vegas. We then rode to the KOA campground for our evening stop. The VFW donated a spaghetti dinner with fresh pies from the local ladies. One of these women was my cousin who was the first Marine Corps woman officer from Tennessee who served in the Pacific during WW 2. What an honor.
SATURDAY, LAS VEGAS TO GREEN RIVER UT
After a donated breakfast at the VFW, most of the riders returned to California but a core group of us, maybe 30, continued the mission. Up I-15 through the Virgin Canyon to St George UT for lunch where Al Spay caught up with us after a long morning in Vegas. Jim from ABATE of Utah met us at the border, informing us that I- 70 was being paved with long lines of construction traffic and that we should ride around. This we did, past Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon and through Capitol Reef. When stopped in Fruita at a gas stop, an elderly lady hurried out with her Kodak Instamatic to interview and take photos of the pack. She published an article in the local weekly paper and made us famous in northern Utah. In Green River, ABATE and other organizations had a camp site and dinner waiting. While most of us pitched tents, our two Vietnam veteran doctors were checking into the local motel. They heard a young girl screaming while running downstairs into the parking lot in her night gown. The two ran upstairs to an open door and found an older gentleman laying on his back not breathing. One doctor gave mouth to mouth while the other did chest compressions. At this moment, a Highway Patrol Officer with gun drawn, saw two bikers beating a man and ordered them off the man and stop the assault. Between breaths, they explained they were trying to save the man’s life. Unfortunately, the victim died. The girl was never found and the cop apologized. All of this while the rest of us enjoyed a meal and good night’s rest.
SUNDAY, GREEN RIVER TO DENVER CO
Riding east through the Utah high dessert in an early morning sun rise is a beautiful thing. I found I was looking in my rearview mirror as much as the windshield when suddenly…… A quick look backwards and I confirmed that only a couple of bikes were behind me with a big cloud of dust in the background. We few U-turned on I-70 riding back west along the shoulder. We found the pack parked along the highway with a pickup truck on its side in a cattle pasture. The old truck pulling a trailer had broken its right axle as the pack passed. The truck and two male passengers rolled through a fence line with the men’s two wives and family following in an old auto. The Run For The Wall members were busy collecting “stuff” from the truck, the doctors were helping the two men who rolled with the truck and tractor trailer trucks were contacted via CB radio to call the cops. Who should arrive? The same State Trooper from last night. At least this time he didn’t draw his weapon. Back again riding east on the interstate we passed the Colorado state line with many members of Vietnam Veterans of America waving flags and welcoming us to their state. We stopped in Grand Junction for fuel and interviews. A pattern was forming. I would be interviewed by local press with barley enough time to use the bathroom. Someone would push my bike to the fuel pumps and fill me up. The RFTW team was coming together. Each rider helping wherever he or she could. Climbing into the Rockies we crossed the 11,158-foot Eisenhower Pass through the 1.69-mile Johnson Tunnel. None of us were prepared for the snow and cold. After photos and more clothes added at a rest area, we rode downhill to the KOA of Denver east of town. What a welcome we received from several Sons of God and Christian Motorcycle Association members with dinner served in a Quonset hut and ice cream cups for dessert.
MONDAY, DENVER TO SALINA KS
Big Bill was going to ride just to Denver then told me he had a brother in Kansas so bought new clothes at a Walmart and kept riding…. all the way to DC. Marc and Melissa were on their honeymoon and were also only going to Denver but ended in DC when Melissa presented Marc with extra money. Gary had a cracked gas tank and Timmy was riding a Sportster with ape hanger handlebars. Neither could ride more than 80 miles at a time so pulled out of the pack and caught up at the next stop. Russ, being Gary’s brother, hung in there with them. Jerry was a retired firefighter on his first motorcycle cross country and ended up being one of the leaders. Later in life he rode dozens of times across country and started the club Wind and Fire. Al became our Road Captain and Don, a former cop, our only road guard. Don is still a road guard with RFTW 32 years later as of this date. Stewart was riding an old police bike with flames. He wasn’t a veteran but cared. Phil or Beemer was our only BMW rider. Not until after we were in DC did he confide to me that he was going blind and that this was his last chance to ride. Country was from Oregon riding on an old Kawasaki that Pete fixed nightly. Cord didn’t have her own bike so hitched rides with others. She made it all the way. Jon from Hawaii pulled a trailer. Scotty, a WW 2 Marine sniper, and his wife Nina were on a Volkswagen trike. He loved to do wheelies. At the KOA in Denver-Strausburg we met a family moving east who joined our little Band of Brothers riding in an old Corvette. Tom and Joe rode in the pickup with a bike trailer. Ralph and Lois became the unofficial all the way photographers. The high plains are beautiful but boring. Wheat field after wheat field were the norm. We kept moving east. At the Kansas border a large crowd of veterans met us with a plane pulling a Run For The Wall banner following along on I-70. The full-service town of Colby welcomed us with discount fuel, food, oil change and a high school band. Dick was in charge of this stop and did a superb job. After a filling lunch we kept riding, picking up riders at each stop. We were now up to a hundred. After a long day, we pulled into a public park where the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club had bar-b-que and live music waiting. After a meeting with the club officers, it was decided that their pack would ride ten minutes behind the main pack to help with traffic congestion. They had maybe fifty riders so our numbers kept growing. We were also beginning to receive more police escorts, a big help.
TUESDAY, SALINA TO WENTZVILLE MO
With the help of local and state police and many volunteers the ever-increasing pack rode to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Junction City. This is the home of the Army’s 1 st Infantry Division and major supporter of RFTW. Flags were unfurled, speeches were given, rifles were fired and taps played. Back on the road again we passed Topeka and rode on the Kansas Turnpike. Here, ABATE of Kansas had worked with the authorities to give RFTW its own “special” lane passing the toll booths and kept the pack moving. In Kansas City, Denise and United Auto Workers provided lunch and more support. Across Missouri to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Wentzville we rode. Built in 1967, this is one of the oldest memorials to Vietnam Veterans in America. The men responsible for this were there to greet us and welcome us to this very patriotic community.
WEDNESDAY, WENTZVILLE TO OWENSBORO KY
After camping in a local park and breakfast in a café, the pack rolled into the big city of St Louis. With help from local police and fire fighters, we rode down to the Mississippi River in front of the Gateway Arch. Flooding had occurred that week so the fire trucks hosed off the muddy roads in front of us. We took photos in front of the Gateway Arch, gave speeches and spoke with the local supporters. Escorted over the Mississippi River, we crossed into Illinois traveling on I-64. Lunch was donated by the Big Wheeler truck stop in Mt Vernon. We continued east then south into Evansville IN then across the Ohio River to Owensboro KY, home of Col Charles Shelton and our stop for the night. George and Joni did an outstanding job of setting up our camp site, dinner, military displays and inviting Col Shelton’s friends and family to join with us in remembering America’s last Vietnam POW. It was a wonderful homecoming for the riders and supporters.
THURSDAY, OWENSBORO TO MT STERLING KY
The town came out the next morning lining the roads to see us off to our next stop in Louisville, KY. We met more supporters in a local park and were given a flag to leave at The Wall. Greasy and his group led us to the most magnificent Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Frankfort, the state capitol. To quote the Memorial’s web site, “Each Veteran’s name is precisely engraved on the blue-gray granite so the shadow of the sundial pointer touches their name on the anniversary of their death. Thus, each individual is honored with a personal tribute.” Outstanding memorial and a must see. That evening we camped in a donated field, ate a donated meal and listened to music from a band who donated their talents. Thank you to one and all.
FRIDAY, MT STERLING TO NATURAL BRIDGE VA
In Kentucky, Gary Wetzel – Medal of Honor Recipient – and Cowboy from Texas and his daughter, Donna joined our group. Rain began to fall as we entered the mountains of West Virginia. At a rest stop near Charleston, I spoke with a WV Dept of Transportation official who told me each bike must stop at every toll booth and pay. I argued that in Kansas we paid after the pack rolled through, a much safer and quicker method. Having each rider remove rain gear, gloves and getting money at each booth was unacceptable to me. Gary and I looked at a paper map and saw a road around the toll booths, US Highway 60. A local rider said he would call the union coal truck drivers to take a lunch break giving us a clear path along the curvy, mountainous right of way. Highway 60 or Midland Trail follows a beautiful easterly path along the Kanawha River. The sun came out so we stopped in Glen Ferris for a “family” photo at an old two-story hotel along the New River. Continuing mostly flat for a few miles, the road suddenly begins to climb and twists to Hawk’s Nest. Then more twisty curves and more mountains. Alone, this would be a great ride. Leading 250 motorcycles – not so fun. Where in the world is the road going? At a hill crest a cop car suddenly darted in front of the pack. Gary and I looked down and saw hundreds of folks in the road. What’s going on? What is this town? Rainelle WV? Never heard of it but they have heard of us. It seems the local police chief and a radio station have publicized our coming for a couple of hours so the school kids and town folk have come out to welcome us to the most amazing town in the US. We are surrounded by well-wishers. Many in the pack buy ice cream at the Dairy Queen. We are astonished, shocked and amazed. Most of these hard-core veteran bikers have never heard the words “Thank you” or “Welcome Home” and here a whole town is doing just that. Little children want to hug us, call us heroes and please come back. Come back we did and still do today. We ride out to a park just outside of town to take a breather and talk about what just happened. Tears flow freely as we mount up for a fairly flat ride back to Sam Black Church and I-64. The interstate flows quickly down a long downhill slide into Virginia. We take some backroads to a campground along the James River where my mother and brothers are waiting. What is supposed to be a nice grassy area is a cow pasture that is full of crap and has not been cut. It’s disappointing but will do. Several of the riders share rooms at a local motel as the rain falls again.
SATURDAY, NATURAL BRIDGE TO WASHINGTON DC
Interstate 81 is never an easy road but in the rain with a long line of motorcycles it’s even harder. Truckers throw water in our faces and autos jump in and out of the pack much too fast giving us finger jesters because we are slowing them down in their fast pace world. In Front Royal, a veteran’s group, Americans Supporting America’s Veterans, has set up a campground with welcome food and fuel. The sun comes out but the traffic is heavy as we take I-66 the last 65 miles into Arlington and the Marine Corps Iwo Jima War Memorial. Photos are taken, many photos. The core group has ridden 3000 miles across country. For most, this is the longest ride they have ever taken. Now we cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge, pass the Lincoln Memorial to our reserved parking area. I give a talk about the importance of this time, this moment and thank the riders. It is a somber walk to our destination, The Vietnam Veterans Memorial – The Wall. Some riders need help, most cry openly and all are amazed by this black granite stone with the 57,939 names of our friends, family and comrades. 343 more names have since been added. We spend the rest of the afternoon in our thoughts and prayers. From here, each rider goes their own way on their on time. Most return to Front Royal to the campground. I elect to share a room with my brother BB in DC. The first Run For The Wall has ended. The first, the only, the longest organized motorcycle ride across America has ended in a huge success. That evening I enjoy the company of fellow veterans on The Mall listening to Britt Small and Festival play patriotic music. Speeches are given then Gary Wetzel orders me on stage. I see in the audience one of our riders – 18-year-old Donna from Texas. I explain to the large crowd that this young woman has just ridden her own Harley with her father and hundreds of other veterans to be here with them tonight. Later, I will lean that she barely made her high school graduation a few days later.
SUNDAY, ROLLING THUNDER 2 – WASHINGTON DC
I awoke early, getting to the Pentagon parking lot by 6 AM to meet our merchandise trailer. We must sell products to pay the many bills RFTW has accumulated the past few months. Upon arrival, no trailer. I wait, still no trailer. I jump on the Harley and haul butt back to the campground in Front Royal. Along the way, I see George and Joni along the shoulder on the other side of the highway. I U-turn, find they have a flat tire so with Joni in the passenger seat, return to Front Royal. While she gets her truck and trailer to go get George, I hunt for the merchandise trailer. Everyone is still asleep after celebrating too late the night before. Get up we have to move. Again, I race back to the Pentagon and finally at 10 the merchandise arrives. The riders help distribute patches and t-shirts. Some money is raised but not nearly enough. Just before Rolling Thunder begins, Gary Wetzel asks Ray Manzo, Greasy, myself and others to place the Medal of Honor around his neck. At 12 noon RFTW helps lead RT II four bikes abreast over the bridge into DC and pass the Capitol and White House. My friend Pete is in charge of the Air Force honor guard. He has received permission from Arlington National Cemetery to allow us to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknow Soldier. With Gary in the lead, this we do. So many volunteers, so many folks to thank for all of this to come together. I could never remember them all – but to all ya’ll – THANK YOU!
THE AFTERMATH OR NOW WHAT?
After all the running back and forth to Front Royal, I run out of gas during Rolling Thunder. I borrow a drink cup from a bystander, pour gas from one bike into my tank and make it to a gas station. What an ending to an epic ride. My support vehicle has left without me. I am all alone after thousands of miles with multiple motorcycles in my ears. I ride up to Luray Caverns to enjoy the solitude. Here I find Scotty and Nina riding back to Arizona. We speak for awhile then go our separate ways. I ride the scenic and peaceful Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway to my parent’s mountain cabin in Hendersonville NC. After a couple of days, it is time to move on westward. I borrow some money from Dad, pack up and head out. What a difference ridding alone. I camp along the highway, sometimes on picnic tables in rest areas. Up early in Albuquerque, I make the final 800-mile push to San Diego in one day.
I have tried to compile a list of those riders who rode “all the way” in 1989. After 32 years, my memory isn’t great but here goes. If I left anyone out, please let me know via email at: Bikergunny@msn.com James “Gunny” Gregory and Bill Evans Sam and Margo Van Alstyne Mark and Melissa Recker Ralph and Lois Meyer Don “Bullet” Pierce and Al Spay Jerry “Evo Red” Eibert and Jon “Hawaii” Gossett Phil “Beemer” Swartz and Stewart “Flames” Pressman Bill “Big Bill” Sallee and Timmy “Sportster” Murphy Gary and Russ Benedict – Booze Brothers Ed “County” Sheppard and Pete “Mate” Eunice Scotty and Nina Scott Pete “Firefighter” Boyle and Cord Russ “Doc” Adcock and Doctor Bob Ken and Nick and Roy “Roy Boy” Sandidge Tom Johnson and Joe
Name: Ian R. Hargest Road Name: Whiskey Chaser FNG Year: 2016 How many All the Way: Central Route, All The Way, 2016, 2018, 2019
What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory? My dad, who was my inspiration for all I do to support our service-members and Veterans. I visited with him in 2016 after my FNG run. The looks on his face as I shared the multitude of experiences, both with the public and fellow Riders, I had while on The Run. Learning later, after he passed in late 2017, that he’d worn something that I’d gotten for him from The Run nearly every day.
Positions held as a volunteer on the Run? Rider, Tail Gunner Military Background if any or relationships with Military: Father, Uncles, friends Gold Star or Blue Star family member? No What got you to do the RFTW the first time? I moved from VA to NV and had no way to get back to DC to continue paying my respects What brought you back? RFTW is family. The Mission. Being able to help our servicemembers, veterans and their families heal in any way that I can. Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? Yes, in previous years, both before and after joining RFTW. Are you planning on Rolling to Remember (AMVETS Replacement for Rolling Thunder)? No
Brief Synopsis of “WHY YOU RIDE”
I ride in RFTW to support our service-members, veterans and their families. I get much more from the ride than I give, which is not insignificant. I enjoy the opportunities to help those for whom we ride. On the ride home, as with the rest of the year, I enjoy being an unofficial RFTW ambassador with those members of the public who express interest in the organization and its mission.
Road Name: BIG Bopper FNG Year: 2016 How many times have you been All the Way? This will be 5 All the way every year On Which Route (Routes) did you ride? Midway What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory? WOW, so many, but the “man on the ramp” as I have referred to him. Just coming by an overpass and there he was, in a wheelchair outside his car. Looked to be a Korean era Veteran and as he came into view was pushing himself up to position and saluting us as we rode past. To me it was that quiet unobtrusive man with all his strength supporting me and I felt so unworthy. I have carried that memory every mile, of every trip since and throughout the years. I have looked at the thousands who have stood in yards, schools, cities, gas stations, roadsides, bridges, farm fields, and more and have always felt they were every bit as important to this run as those who ride. I am the fortunate one who can ride for them, who can carry their message of hope, freedom, gratitude, and yes, the pain of lost loved ones on this mission. I have looked every year for the “man on the ramp”, maybe that was his final chance to say “thank you”, maybe my timing is off, but it will forever be a memory, a motivator and the answer to the question “Why I Ride”? Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run? 2 years Tailgunner for Platoon 1 and this will be my 2nd year as Platoon Leader for Platoon 3 Are you a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with a member of the Military? Marine Corps (75-81) father of a Marine Daughter, and a Navy Son. Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member? Yes, Blue Star Father What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first time? In 2013 my best friend and the former Vice Mayor of Palm Springs under Sonny Bono simply told me to be on a certain bridge at a certain time on a certain day. Well you don’t say no to Tuck, so I was holding a flag on I-10 for the next three years always saying I want to do this. What brought you back? The “Man on the ramp” and the ability to serve others. Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? Yes 3 years Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? Yes
My first year RC Daryl “Top” Neal with Kathy (left) and my wife Celia (right)
The Flag Speaks for itself
My first year as a Platoon Leader. I learned so much with so much support from this motley looking crew. No it’s not a mistake! Some Roadguard named Mazz slipped into the picture (back row red hat). He knew quality when he saw it.
On Which Route (Routes) did you ride? Southern Route
your favorite Run for the Wall memory? In Wytheville, VA. Pam Cain talked about her father, Col. Oscar
Mauterer who has been MIA since Feb 15, 1966. That was three days after I was
born. The pollen must have been bad that day because my eyes began to water.
While I was listening to her talk about Col. Mauterer I was also thinking that
this is why I am here. This lady has not known where her father is roughly
since I was born. Wiping my eyes several
times I said prayers for Pam, and her family. At the D-Day Memorial I caught up
to Pam. As I approached her, my eyes began to tear up again. When I got to her
I stumbled over my words but told her that her father went MIA three days after
I was born. She must have sensed how emotional I was and gave me a hug like
we’ve known each other for decades. I told her that her speech was my “RFTW
Moment” and that I would tell others of his story. She sincerely thanked me,
and we traded email addresses.
Remembering my youth (1970’s-80’s) when I saw POW/MIA
bracelets and was curious about them I decided the best way to honor Col.
Mauterer was to purchase one. When I got home from the Run I looked them up
online and ordered one. The day it came in the mail I sent Pam a picture of it.
She was overwhelmed with what I did. Among other words of appreciation, she
said, “You just have no idea
what this does to strengthen & support us.” I wear the bracelet every day. Many times
people have asked me about it and I gladly answer and still get choked up.
When I got home I also arranged for monthly visitations of our Christian Motorcyclist Association Chapter at the Oregon Veterans Hospital in The Dalles OR. these visits are equally appreciated by the Veterans and by our Chapter members.
When I got home I also arranged for monthly visitations of our Christian Motorcyclist Association Chapter at the Oregon Veterans Hospital in The Dalles OR. these visits are equally appreciated by the Veterans and by our Chapter members.
Have you held any positions as a volunteer on the Run? I have not but I will volunteer in the future.
a Military Veteran, or do you have a military background or a relationship with
a member of the Military? I am not a Veteran. I have a brother,
brother-in-law, son-in-law, and many Uncles, and cousins who have served.
Are you a Gold Star or Blue Star family member? No
What inspired you to participate in the RFTW the first
time? Several friends have gone
‘All the Way’ the past few years and I felt the need to do it as well.
What brought you back?
I haven’t yet but will in 2021.
Have you participated
in Rolling Thunder? Yes
Are you planning on participating in Rolling to Remember (the AMVETS event that replaces Rolling Thunder)? Yes
In case no-one noticed, we have started up a “Why I Ride” page on the rftw.us website. This is a totally voluntary thing to participate in. We would love to hear your story and publish it on our website, Facebook page and groups and our Twitter account. If you are interested please email firstname.lastname@example.org I will send you a brief questionnaire and have you fill it out and send it back. I will then take a look and clean up any formatting or other issues and send you a link to the final product before actually posting. THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR INPUT. Please send a couple of photos as well.
All the Way: 11 Participant: 1 Always Central Route
What is your favorite Run for the Wall memory?
It was 2009 and my second year on the Run. We were in Angel Fire and the resort was serving us a spaghetti dinner. I was running late to dinner and when I got there most of the people had already eaten and left. I got my food and looked for a place to sit down. I saw one of the riders in the corner of the room with his back to the corner. I knew this position well so I went over and asked if I could join him. He allowed me to sit down and for a short while we sat in silence. Then it happened, he began telling me all about the time he served what he went through and what he saw. He told me of times with his brothers in arms that made us laugh and times in battle that made us cry. He talked for hours and I listened.
The resort workers were trying to close the room, so we knew our time had to come to an end. He thanked me for listening and told me that he spoke of things that he had never told anyone and had not spoken of since they happened in Vietnam. I told him that it was my pleasure and that I was honored to have the chance to listen.
We rode together for many years on the Run but never talked about that evening again and we didn’t need to, we had a connection that did not need to be addressed.
Positions held as a volunteer on the Run? Tailgunner, Platoon Leader, Registration, State Coordinator, Camping Coordinator, Registration Database Coordinator.
Military Background if any or relationships with Military: I’m not military. My Father served in the Army and my Son served in the Army and is currently serving in the Army National Guard, he had a total of over 18 years of service.
Gold Star or Blue Star family member? I am a Blue Star Mom.
What got you to do the RFTW the first time? I was drawn to it which I really didn’t understand but I thought it would be a way that I could show support to my Son and all of our military personnel.
What brought you back? My first year was not good in any way. Bike broke down, platoon was a mess and only got to know one person who was also an FNG in 2008. Prior to 2009 this friend was killed on her bike when someone made a left turn in front of her. I returned because of the glimpse of what I saw the Run could be and I found that it is more than I could have ever imagined.
Have you participated in Rolling Thunder? No
Are you planning on Rolling to Remember (AMVETS Replacement for Rolling Thunder)? No
Brief synopsis of “WHY YOU RIDE”
I ride for my Son, I ride for the friends I have on the Run who have served, I ride for those who need to ride and choose not to or don’t know that they need to ride, I ride for the friend who was killed, I ride for the friend I made at Angel Fire, I ride for the friends I have yet to make and I ride for those who can’t.
Anything else to Add??
I wish to thank those who have supported me physically, emotionally and financially, which has allowed me ride on the Run year after year. I love you more than you know.